Central Coast Hinterland

A Timeline of Change


Pre 1820s – Aboriginal nations

Before European settlers arrived, the local Guringai, Darkinjung and Awabakal nations lived around Tuggerah Lakes in perfect alignment between culture and ecology. At that time, the lakes teemed with fish and waterfowl. The First Australians hunted and gathered from the land with little impact on the environment.

1821- Beginning of logging

The first European settlers moved into the former Wyong district in the 1820s. They brought the herds of cattle for dairy farming.

1821 – Beginning of logging

Nearly as soon as they arrived, the European settlers began to clear native Australian forests. At first, the impact of their activity was small, but as deforestation intensified, it drove massive amounts of pollution from Wyong River and Ourimbah Creek into the lakes.

1860 – Start of commercial fishing

In the early 1800s and way before that time, local lakes had an abundance of fish. Commercial fishing began in 1860 and remained a thriving industry for another 100 years until the fish numbers started to decline. Today, Tuggerah Lakes is still a popular spot for commercial and recreational fishing. Every year, the lakes attract hundreds of keen anglers.

1887 – Extension of the Great Northern Railway

The opening of the second section of the Great Northern Railway provided a more direct link between Sydney and Newcastle. It paved the way for further development of the district. Farms and industries flourished as locally sourced timber, fish and fresh farm produce could now be sent quickly to the markets in Sydney.

1920 - First flock of holidaymakers to the Central Coast

During the early 1900s, the Central Coast was fast becoming a favourite destination for many sunseekers. The scenic local town called The Entrance was a particular drawcard. Bounded by water on three sides and boasting access to a picturesque lagoon, it soon saw subdivisions sprouting up everywhere, with many tagged for future holiday accommodation. It was right then that the Central Coast as a favourite Australian holiday spot was born.

1920 – Timber industry in decline

By the 1920s, the timber industry started to slow down. It was quickly overtaken by the booming dairy industry.

1930 – Dairy industry in full swing

By the 1930s, more than two hundred local farmers were sending their milk to the milk factory in Wyong for processing.

1940 – Largest egg production in NSW

Poultry farming was the next significant development in the region, especially for the Kanwal and Warnervale districts. They soon became the largest egg producers in the state.

1955 – Wyong Shire population explosion

All the industrial changes: thriving local industries, a direct rail link to Sydney and an expansion of accommodation places topped with a growing tourism reputation, saw the district’s population swell to more than 13,000 residents.

1960 – Demise of older industries

From the 1960s, a new leading sector started to emerge. Urban development brought exponential growth to the region’s cities, yet also contributed to the decline of more traditional industries. Agriculture, timber and dairy took a back seat while residential demand increased and land prices soared, spurred on by the new Munmorah Power Station and nearby coal mines.

1970 – Fastest growing urban district

No longer just a magnet for holidaymakers, the Central Coast was quickly becoming a popular choice for permanent residents. It became the fastest-growing urban district in south-east Australia at the time. Thanks to the extension of the Sydney to Newcastle freeway and the opening of the new electric railway, the local population continued to boom through the 1980s.

1990 – Population over 100,000

More and more people continued to arrive and settle down in the area. By 1990, the former Wyong Shire was home to 102,000 residents.

Today – A bustling urban centre

Only 50 years ago, Tuggerah Lakes was surrounded by small fishing villages and cosy holiday cabins. Now the lakes’ catchment is a bustling urban centre with a population of around 140,000. It is only imaginable that such a rapid growth must have had a long-lasting effect on the local environment and the condition of the lakes.

Keen to Learn More about Tuggerah Lakes and the Central Coast?

Visit the Wyong District Museum and Historical Society to find out more.


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